Macquarie University
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Australian Educators’ Use of Children’s Heritage Language in Early Childhood Services: Facilitators and Barriers

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posted on 2024-03-13, 00:14 authored by Mingjun Tang

The Early Years Learning Framework V2.0 (EYLF) provides the foundation for centre-based early childhood learning and teaching across Australia. The EYLF explicitly recommends practices for educators, such as learning some key words from children’s heritage language (HL) and using those words when talking to children. Despite clear national endorsement and advice, there are inconsistencies in the use of HL with children in Australian early childhood services. This study aimed to examine the facilitators and barriers to educators’ use of HL with multilingual children and parents in early childhood services.

A mixed-method approach was employed in this study. An online survey captured information on educators’ demographics, self-reported fluency in languages other than English (multilingual competence) and use of HL with children and parents. Open questions from the online survey provided insights into the benefits and challenges of using HL, as well as solutions, as identified by educators. An interview then allowed for an in-depth discussion. Analysis of closed questions indicated a significant association between educators’ reported language fluency and use of HL with multilingual children and parents. Semantic analysis of open-ended survey questions revealed that although educators recognised the importance of using HL in promoting a sense of belonging for children, they faced significant challenges, such as a lack of proficiency in HL, parent’s aspirations for using English with children and colleague’s negative attitude towards multilingualism. Five themes emerged after the thematic analysis of interviews with four highly educated multilingual educators: centre’s culture, language (mis) match, parents’ characteristics, educator's philosophy, and professional role. This study reveals the important role of educators’ multilingual competence and a whole-centre approach in supporting multilingual families, where staff team, leaders and management at the centre have to work collaboratively on endorsing multilingualism. Recommendations for multilingualism in the Australian early childhood workforce are discussed.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature Review -- Chapter 3. Methodology -- Chapter 4. Results -- Chapter 5. Discussion -- References -- Appendices

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie School of Education

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Shirley Wyver

Additional Supervisor 1

Nan Xu Rattanasone


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:






206 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 314836

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